Usually, the choice of whether or not to use a click track is dependent on the song: Is a precise rhythm important? Will the click track detract from the energy of the song? Is editing and moving sections of audio around something I'll need to do for this project? Is there a live drummer?

In this particular situation, I have a longer song that starts out very slowly and then builds over three verses, then reaches a crescendo in the single chorus that's followed by a couple minutes of soloing. A full band slowly joins in over that time. I'll be recording this myself - this isn't a project with a band. (This song is part of my personal side-project album.)

I think that the song could benefit from a click track that kicks in later on in the song. However, the beginning of the song needs to be done very freely.

Here's my demo of the song, so you can get a feel for the arrangement. Please excuse the mediocre pitch-corrected vocals and errors.

This is fairly close to the feel I want, but it's too disorganized near the end - I think a click-track or sequenced drums will allow the guitar and bass to be in sync better, but since the first verses are in such free time, I won't know where to start them out.

Is there any way to do this short of a full band in the studio? I'd really prefer to avoid recording this in sections or editing the audio by hand after recording it. (Logic's flex-time is great for occasional timing errors, but not so much for a long song.)

I'm using Logic Express 9. I tend to track in Garageband, but can do it in Logic.

2 Answers 2


First of all, I have to say I deeply disagree that this songs needs any kind of click. It completely lives from the dynamic tempo, just one of those cases where a click would in fact "distract from the energy". The problem is just that the drums are very poor on this track.

The way to get such a dynamic song right properly is to have the drums, bass and guitar play the base track simultaneously in a single room (or seperate rooms, but live-connected through latency-free audio). As this option seems not available to you, I would choose either of:

  1. Start with the drum track. You will need to play the beginning with a very basic rhythm thinking of the guitar, and emulating its natural tempo changes. After you have then overdubbed the actual guitar, remove the drums in the beginning. Chances are that part won't work ideally, so it may be better to
  2. Play the guitar beginning until the point where the drums take over the rhythmic dominance. Proceed from that point as in 1.
  3. Play the complete guitar track. Then dynamically fit a click track to this track. I used to do this quite often, back then I did it with Cubase 3, which made this task very simple ("time warp" it was called I believe). I haven't tried it in any other program so far. — Onto this dynamic click track (guitar mute!), record everything else. In the end, you're probably going to have to redo the guitar, too.

If you're determined to do it with a fixed-tempo click, you can do as in 3. but only do the initial guitar up to the first bar where the click should take over.

  • Logic's Tempo Interpreter is supposed to fit the tempo to the music. The one time I tried it (on a different song), it did weird things to the audio tracks, changing the syncopation of beats and rhythms. You're right about these drums being poor; this is a demo - my second such for this song, and they're improving - and I'm trying to avoid making the same mistakes next time. Sep 13, 2011 at 22:28
  • That seems to be a mostly automatic function, not the ideal thing. In Cubase, it's a great tool you use all by hand, so it always does exactly what you want it to. Sep 13, 2011 at 22:38
  • Then maybe I need to do this in Cubase. Hmm. A friend who uses it is coming by tonight anyway. Sep 13, 2011 at 22:39
  • Lately, I use option 3 for most tracks. For this song, I used a click, but I spent a fair bit of time setting just the right tempo curve - from 104 to 128bpm, gently increasing as the song went on. Eliminating the drums sounded better than using programmed drums so that's the option I went with in the end. soundcloud.com/neilfein/the-rain-is-back Feb 8, 2019 at 7:20

I would recommend initially recording at least one track in sections so you can get the timing right, and then later discarding that track.

You could possibly record the first section of the guitar part in free time on one track then in another take/track record the second section with the click track. You could then record all the other tracks with that as your time base and eventually re-record the guitar part in one take.

Another option would be to start a metronome or click track using some sort of foot pedal.

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